A Tremor in the Blood: Uses and Abuses of the Lie Detector


Over the past 60 years, the mystique of the polygraph, or lie detector machine, has caused far too many people to be hoodwinked into blind acceptance of this device. Foisted on the public by its developers and their disciples as an infallible arbiter of truth, this machine is cloaked in a mantle of pseudo-science. However, despite its reputation, scientific evidence indicates that the polygraph is about as accurate as tossing a coin. In this clear, lively, and interesting book, David Lykken explains why our press and government nevertheless continue to believe in what the late Senator Sam Ervin, of Watergate fame, described as "20th Century witchcraft".

Lest anyone be lulled into complacency, by the prevalence of the lie detector, the author presents case histories of persons whose lives have been blighted by our uniquely American faith in the myth of the polygraph. Dr. Lykken also explains how to "beat" the machine, not only because it is unfair that spies and Mafia soldiers already know these techniques, but also because innocent persons have a nearly 50:50 chance of failing lie detector tests unless they use appropriate countermeasures.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Reading, MA
Publication year:
  • 1998


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